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[Teacher-talkhswriters] Developing Writers Workshop 7 & 8

From: Kathy Petrek <HAAU_KP_at_swoca.net>
Date: Fri, 01 Apr 2011 14:53:14 -0400
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I used the book When I was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant as an
inspirational text for imitation writing with the ESOL students. Last week we
read the book together, and I gave the students a copy of the text. We
referred to the book often, and students read parts of it to each other as
they worked on their writing.
We made a list of the types of memories in the book: relatives, food, daily
routines, and events unique to a time and place. We looked at how the
pictures in the book showed clothing and life styles that portrayed the time
and place as well as the economic status of the narrator. We talked about
the structure of the book and the way each memory began with “When I was young
in the mountains. . .” We talked about the tone of the book. Students
commented that they thought the narrator must have been poor but never said it
directly. She was not bitter or angry that they did not have indoor plumbing,
electricity, or a TV. We felt the narrator shared her feelings of contentment
with her childhood and the mountain life she experienced.

For the writing assignment, students used the phrase, “When I was young in
(their native country). . .” and wrote sentences or paragraphs about memories
from their childhood. They used similar topics from the book and wrote about
relatives, food, and daily activities. They asked each other questions, and
we had good conversations that inspired students to include more details in
their writing. They naturally gave each other feedback to improve sentences
and word choice. They had amazing stories. Writing is hard for some of them,
but they were very motivated to write their memories. The imitation aspect
made writing easier for them.

We decided to publish the stories in Power Point format. Only one student
chose not to continue to work on his story because he said it made him sad
that he was so poor and did not have good memories of his childhood. The
other students have been working on their stories to add slides and pictures.
The assignment helped students improve both vocabulary and writing. It is
interesting to see how they are bonding as a group doing this activity. I
think it made them realize how many things they have in common despite the
fact that they are from different countries and different religions. Their
memories of day to day life are often similar. Some students are gaining
confidence, and they are adding more emotional memories and things unique to
their culture.
It had been a good activity. It stimulated good conversation, and we learned
about different cultures. The students developed as writers and improved
their skills in giving feedback. They were highly motivated to use the
correct words and write correct sentences in their Power Points. They learned
to use technology to enhance their writing, and I think they will be proud of
their finished projects.

Kathy Petrek
Hamilton City ABLE

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Received on Fri Apr 01 2011 - 14:54:12 EDT


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